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This is the title of the second volume of the book by Dr. Kiril Kartalov, presented on the 9th of November at the UniCredit Bulbank International Center in Sofia. And as in the case with the presentation of the first: Bulgaria and the Holy See.

Commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Diplomatic Relations in Sofia (1990-2015) on the 30th of June 2016, the event sparked tremendous interest among ambassadors and journalists.

E. Mgr. Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari, Ambassador, Head of Mission, Apostolic Nuncio, on whose initiative the event was taking place, invited high-profile guests to present to us this serious work: Fr. Bernard Ardura, President of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2017), Mr. Todor Stoyanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Axinia Djurova. Each of them presented their gaze on the book Bulgaria and the Holy See. Commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Diplomatic Relations in Sofia (2016) by Dr. Kiril Kartalov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences.

The Apostolic Nuncio himself presented a brilliant report on "The Diplomacy of the Holy See, in the World and in Bulgaria". So we offer it to you as a stand-alone analysis that you can read HERE.

Among the excerpted reports, particularly impressive was that of Fr. Bernard Ardura, President of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, who is well acquainted with Dr. Kiril Kartalov and his work:

"The publication of the volume that we have the pleasure of presenting today is the result of a praiseworthy initiative of His Excellency the Most Revered Monsegneur Pecorari, Apostolic Nuncio in Bulgaria with the aim of highlighting the importance of the 25th anniversary of the Diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and the Holy See.

In just a few months, for the third time, we find ourselves convened in the heart of the Bulgarian capital in order to reflect on the relations between the Holy See and Bulgaria. 

The volume that we present today invites us to take a look at the XX century, marked in Europe with a troubled history, which had significant repercussions on the diplomatic relations between the Holy See and European states, and on our dear Bulgaria thereof.  

Almost a century ago, in the distant 1925, the Pope Pius XI took a decisive step, when he decided to send to Sofia, as Apostolic Visitor Monsignor Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the memory of whom will always remain alive not only in the small catholic community, because he was a man who was a Good Shepherd above all, concerned with the well-being of all people he encountered, without distinction of religion.

Monsignor Roncalli did his best to bring consolation to the people afflicted not only by poverty, but also by the terrible earthquake of 14th of April 1928 and carried out with zeal and dedication his assignment as an Apostolic Legate in favour of the catholic communities marked by the rather miserable state of the ecclesiastic discipline at the time.

In 1926, at its own initiative, The Holy See abolished the preceding Apostolic vicariates and created the Bulgarian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate.

During the ten-year presence of Monsignor Roncalli in Sofia, he had the joy of sharing with all Bulgarian Christians the apostolic letter of Pius XI from 13th of February 1927, on the occasion of the commemoration of the Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Monsignor Roncalli has been always dedicated to handling personal issues with great attention. He devoted himself to resolving important matters such as the marriage of King Boris III of Bulgaria with the Princess Giovanna of Savoy in 1930. Even though the institutional relations became rather tense for reasons known to everybody, Monsignor Roncalli always knew how to combine the firmness of his principles with the kindness in his personal relations.

In 1934, Monsignor Roncalli was transferred to the seat in Constantinople  as an Apostolic Legate in Greece and Turkey.

In 1935, arrived the new Legate, Monsignor Giuseppe Mennotti Mazoli, who remained in Sofia till his death on December 8, 1945.

After the death of Monsignor Mazzoli, the Holy See did not manage to obtain the approval of the Bulgarian Government for the new Legate, Monsignor Georges de Jonghe d’Andoye and thus retained as charge d'affaires Monsignor Francesco Galoni, who remained in Sofia till the end of 1948, when after an exchange of notices between the Minister of Foreign affairs Vasil Kolarov and the Deputy Secretary of State Mons. Giovanni Battista Montini, it became clear to everyone that he Bulgarian government intended to interrupt relations with the Holy See. The secretary P. Placido Rossi remained in the Apostolic delegation but he was expelled from the country in February 1949.

It should now be noted, that after the Second World War, the Bulgarian Government, unlike other communist regimes of Eastern Europe, did not officially abolish the Greco-Catholic church. Nevertheless, it was subject to persecution, like all Christians. 

The relations between Bulgaria and the Holy See during the half-century of communist power were officially non-existent; even anti-Catholic and anti-Vatican literature evolved, accusing the papacy of being allied with Western imperialism. Deprived of its educational and welfare institutions, with the prohibition of any catechistic activity, the Catholic Church in Bulgaria was also afflicted by many repressive measures such as incarcerations and series of trials.

As very well illustrated by the section of our book dedicated to the Pontifical Magisterium, the memory of the Saints Cyril and Methodius, represented in a way the cornerstone of Papal interventions, as emphasized by St John XXIII, on May 11 1963 in his Apostolic letter "Magnifici eventus" on the occasion of XI century of the arrival of the Saint Brothers in Great Moravia. The memory of Monsignor Roncalli was still so vivid, that after his election to the Papal throne, the Bulgarian state reduced its pressure on the Catholics in the state and he was also called with affection the "Bulgarian Pope".

Even in the time of Pope Paul VI, the Saints Cyril and Methodius were the pretext for the Apostolic Letter "Antiquae Nobilitatis" of February 2, 1969. As a result of the initiative of Bulgaria and the initiative of the Bulgarian Ambassador in Italy Krum Hristov in particular, the custom to celebrate annually the feast of the two Saint Brothers was established.

After the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the force of the Warsaw Pact, in the spring of 1968, new connections between Bulgaria and the Holy See developed in the 1970s, characterized by unofficial relations and enhanced control over the Bulgarian Catholic Church.

These relations developed also because, under the first impetus of John XXIII, in the Vatican flourished a period of openness towards the Eastern European countries, which Paul VI intensified in his Ostpolitik, led by Mons. Agostino Casaroli, who at the time was a Secretary of the Council for Public Affairs of the Holy See. Such were his relations with the Bulgarian Foreign Minister of Foreign affairs Petar Mladenov that Mons. Casaroli visited Bulgaria in 1976 and during this visit they discussed the future cooperation between the People's Republic of Bulgaria and the Vatican as well as several possibilities for additional activities of mutual benefit, beginning with the commemoration of the Saints Cyril and Methodius.

This historic meeting was the prelude to the visit of Minister Mladenov to Pope John Paul II on 13 December 1978.

As emphasized by Kiril Plamen Kartaloff, curator of the book that we present today, in his other publications, the eighties were nevertheless difficult for the relations between the Holy See and Bulgaria, because the Socialist States decided to be more cautious in their contacts with the Holy See, decided not to grant a juridical status to the Catholic Church and not to recognize the Episcopal Conferences. Then, for Bulgaria, relations waned further after the assassination attempt on John Paul II on May 13, 1981 in St. Peter's Square.

After having proclaimed the Saints Cyril and Methodius as co-patron Saints of Europe in 1980, in 1985 John Paul II published the Apostolic Letter "Slavorum Apostoli" for the 11 century of the evangelical work of the Saint Brothers.

Like in many other states in the former communist bloc, an era of freedom commenced for Bulgaria. The new Bulgarian authorities soon sought to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See and these relations were officially established on December 6, 1990. The following year the Nuncio, Monsignor Mario Rizzi took office, the Embassy of the Holy See was established in Bulgaria, an embassy with which I am very happy to collaborate regularly on historical and cultural level.

The volume, subject of our convention, provides a series of texts of great religious and historical significance and illustrates magnificently the fruitful relations that culminated in the historic visit of Pope John Paul II from 23 to 26th of May 2002.

The state visit of His Eminence Cardinal Emperor Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, from 19 to 22 March 2016, widely covered in these pages, attests to the fruitfulness of the relations between Bulgaria and the Holy See and your presence in this convention endorsed by His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio, is a strong encouragement to continue together in service of the common good."

The participants in the event continued to discuss the book and the interesting moments of the development of the diplomatic relations between Holy See and Bulgaria even after the speeches, during the cocktail given by the organizers.

The photos are provided by the Embassy of the Holy See in the Republic of Bulgaria.

Up: Fr. Bernard Ardura, President of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, carrying out his report

Below: Mr. Todor Stoyanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, making his statement; H. E. Mgr. Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari, Ambassador, Head of Mission, Apostolic Nuncio, speaking with a representative of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church; Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2017); Dr. Kiril Kartalov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences.